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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Day After: Oh, so there’s the powerplay

Welcome to the day after where we dive into what’s happening with the Oilers the day after a game. Here’s last night’s post-game article. 

Another game, another loss. It was a tough pill to swallow watching the Oilers fall in a game they easily could’ve won having outplayed the Leafs for good stretches of the game.

Alas, it didn’t happen. Once again the Oilers were unable to play with a lead and an overwhelming amount of penalties called during the game surely messed with the flow of it.

But what it did do was give a chance for Edmonton’s powerplay to click. Edmonton’s powerplay went 28% last night alone, scoring two goals on seven chances. Both were by Leon Draisaitl, and it was a good sign of what could be coming ahead.

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The top unit has seen some changes in game, too. Tyson Barrie and Darnell Nurse have rotated in at that point spot, while James Neal, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and Kyle Turris got some looks up front. This, all the while, the three main players — Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — assumed their regular spots.

“Part of switching it around is by design,” said head coach Dave Tippett after the game. “The three main characters are on it, but then it gives different look. It makes it harder for the opposition to read.

“You have different right-handed, left-handed (players) at the top and the bottom, so there’s different things that we’re looking for. You’re looking for people on any given kind of play (to make something happen).”

The team’s powerplay has now his 20% on the season and is beginning to climb, placing them smack dab in the middle of the league.

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While the Oilers powerplay is clicking, the penalty kill is struggling mightily. They allowed two goals yesterday after sloppy penalties following Oilers goals in the third. Tippett was none too impressed with the efforts of the team on either of those points.

“We shoot ourselves in the foot,” he said highlighting what he felt were poor penalties to take after Oilers goals. “You know (the refs are) looking to call a penalty and we still want to slash and hook people. You’re tempting fate.

“Penalty killing is sacrificing, getting in lanes and getting saves. The last two goals our players didn’t want to get in the lane and we didn’t get a save so we end up on the back end of it.”

Edmonton has a chance to continue to improve on both categories with four of the next six against a terrible Ottawa Senators team.

Backhanders…

  • The Oilers goaltending woes are on full display. While Mikko Koskinen can only do so much, he’s having some struggles as is the team’s defensive play in front of him. He’s played more than any other goalie in the league this year and it’s wearing on him. He, however, says he feels good.
    “I’m feeling really good, I feel like my game is okay,” he said after last night’s loss. “We’re not getting results and that’s the hardest part but you have to hang in there. It will get better, we will start winning — I’m 100% sure that will happen.”
  • Connor McDavid is none too pleased with the OIlers game to start the year. “We’re nine games in, we’re done figuring it out,” he said. “We need to start putting games together.”
  • Troy Groesnick make his Oilers practice debut today and I wonder if he gets in a game soon.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]

 

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